I have a lean bone structure. Does this mean my muscles will also be on the small side? Will I never be able to build bulk that competes with big-boned men?
The reality is that people with larger bone structures definitely tend to have an easier time building mass. (However, there are exceptions to the norm: an example is Frank Zane, an excellent bodybuilder who had a fairly small frame.)
First of all, are you sure you're small-boned? It's pretty easy to determine: Grab a flexible tape measure, then wrap it around your wrist and ankle. If you're small-boned, your wrist will be 5-1/2 inches or less and your ankle will be 8 inches or less; medium-boned, your wrist will be 5-1/2 to 6 inches and ankle 8 to 9 inches; large-boned, your wrist will be 6 inches or more and your ankle will be 9 inches or more.
If you've measured and are small-boned, the end of the world has not arrived. One: You've got plenty of company. Two, you've actually got an advantage against bigger-boned dudes -- smaller wrists and ankles make the muscles on your forearms and legs look larger than they actually are.
Plus, you can still bulk up, but you'll need to gear your workouts and meals to gain muscle mass by training with a high volume of multi-joint exercises (squats, power cleans, bench press, etc.) instead of isolation moves (biceps curls, leg extensions, etc.) and downing extra calories. (Depending on your size, you should aim to increase your daily food intake by 700 to 1000 calories from a variety of food groups.) Try German volume training: ten sets of ten reps with the same weight for each exercise, and only one exercise per muscle group, such as bench for chest, shoulder press for shoulders, barbell rows for back, and squats for legs.
Alexander J. Koch, is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, and an exercise physiologist in the department of Health and Exercise Sciences at Truman State University in Missouri in the U.S. He's also a weightlifting coach and has been a member of USA Weightlifting's Collegiate and Sport Science Committees.